From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes
On a hot August day I made preparations for my eighth missionary journey. I'd already mentioned my decision to dress like the Chinese to ease the people's fears when I came to their city. They were not accustomed to foreigners visiting and tended to attack or shy away from European missionaries.
I found a local barber in Shanghai willing to help. He shaved my head, all except for a small patch of hair on the back. He dyed that portion of hair black then attached a long braided pigtail of black Chinese hair. To complete the look, a black ribbon was tied to the end in the same way all Chinese men wore their hair.
The barber stepped back, nodded, and smiled at his work. "You almost look Chinese."
I stood, not expecting the feel of the braid, and couldn't help tipping my head side to side causing the pigtail to sway. The barber bowed as I handed him money. I returned the bow exactly as he had done, keeping my eyes and back in the same position.
The Lord had blessed me with funds from William Berger to rent a house with five rooms. How nice to have space to move about and study. I'd returned to my new house to change into the new Chinese clothes I bought yesterday.
To see how the people would respond to my new look, I went for a walk in the city. Men and women treated as though I were no different than any other Chinese person! The plan worked, so far.
The next day, Dr. Parker met me at the dock for our missionary journey. "My man, I hardly recognized you. You look like a Chinese scholar."
I bowed as the Chinese did and smiled.
He and I set sail for Ningbo, where he had set up a new medical office. To keep the Chinese hair look, I also paid a barber to go along to take care of my new hairstyle.
We stopped at several cities along the way, sharing God's gift of salvation with the people and giving them Christian literature. Dr. Parker showed me his new office in Ningbo and asked, once again if I'd like to stay with his family. While staying with other Europeans took away some of my loneliness, I knew God wanted me to continue the work He sent me to do.
I left Dr. Parker and traveled to Hangzhou Bay in my boat. The people welcomed me without calling me names. They listened to my words about God with respect and didn't attack. Their response showed my change in appearance would further the ministry of Christ.
Unfortunately, the Europeans living in the Shanghai settlement became upset. No other missionary dared to dress like the people. They wanted to stand apart. Many European merchants and missionaries laughed and scorned me. "You look like a fool. How dare you degrade the British name by dressing like a Chinese man? What will the Chinese think of us?"
Their gossiping did bother me. Europeans living in Shanghai accused me of not having the qualifications to be a missionary, that I wasn't ordained, had no church support and dressed like a Chinaman. I refused to allow their words to stop me. This is what God placed on my heart to do and I would see it through for the Glory of God.
J. Hudson Taylor
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Photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor.
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